An Ascetic Story

A young ascetic sitting in meditation under a tree was splattered by the droppings of a bird.

He looked up angrily at the culprit and such was the intensity of his wrath that the bird was reduced to ash.

His concentration disturbed, the ascetic got up and went in search of food. He knocked at the door of a house but there was no answer. He knocked again and the lady of the house shouted that she was coming. Presently she came out with food and seeing that he was annoyed at having had to wait so long, smiled and said: “Please don’t try to burn me with your angry glance like you did that bird. My dharma as a housewife is first to take care of the needs of my family before attending to the needs of others.”

The ascetic realised that she was no ordinary woman and was ashamed of himself. He asked her to teach him what dharma was. She said he should see Dharma Vyadha.

The ascetic went in search of Dharma Vyadha expecting to find a venerable sage but the man turned out to be a meat seller.

Dharma Vyadha made him wait while he served his customers. When the ascetic showed signs of impatience, the meat seller smiled and said: “Just as the woman’s first duty was to her family, my first duty is to my customers.”

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So the ascetic waited. When the last of his customers had gone, the meat seller turned to the ascetic and invited him home.

When they reached Dharma Vyadha’s house the ascetic was again made to wait while his host lovingly attended to his parents. It was quite some time before the meat seller could return to his guest but the young man showed no trace of anger.

A transformation had come over him.

“Now I know what dharma is,” he said, rising and bowing to the meat seller.

Giving up the path of asceticism he returned home and begged forgiveness of his parents for having deserted them in their old age.

“I seek your blessings,” he said, “to give me strength to do my dharma.